For fans, media and players connected to the Cleveland Browns, everything is about 2023. The team has loaded up on talent, especially on the defensive line, despite what was considered limited cap space. Just on the defensive side of the ball, GM Andrew Berry has signed or traded for:
- DT Dalvin Tomlinson
- DE Za’Darius Smith
- DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
- DT Shelby Harris
- Safety Juan Thornhill
There were a number of other moves as well that ate into the Browns cap space.
With huge contracts, monitoring what Berry has to spend is interesting. While fans and media talk about the salary cap as a huge thing, teams speak about it as an “accounting tool” more than anything. The cap can be manipulated in a variety of ways especially when you have an owner that is willing to pay money upfront in deals with signing bonuses.
For all his flaws, Jimmy Haslam’s willingness to spend money has helped Berry make a ton of moves in Cleveland.
According to a report, another move was just made to free up cap space for 2023 but is most likely for 2024 and beyond:
A simple restructure gives Bitonio more of his money immediately while creating more flexibility with the Browns salary cap.
Berry could use that cap space for a big move now, save it in case a need or opportunity arises later this season, or Cleveland can save the money to help moving forward. The Browns are currently projected to be over $52 million over the cap for the 2024 season, according to Over the Cap. It is unclear if that includes the Bionio restructure that they reported above.
With this move, Cleveland is now almost $23 million under the cap this season which can rollover to take care of much of next year’s debt. The NFL salary cap has also continued to rise significantly year after year which will help the Browns salary cap.
Jack Duffin of The OBR always does a great job of breaking down salary cap decisions and details. In his breakdown of this move, Duffin shares who could be next:
The most obvious name to restructure next would by Myles Garrett creating $12,936,000 of 2023 cap space.
Other names you could see are Cooper for $15,068,000, Teller for $9,136,000 and Chubb for $7,816,000 but since their long term future in Cleveland isn’t as secure as Garrett they are less likely.
While some may assume that Cleveland restructured Bitonio to make a bigger move right now, it is more likely that this move (and any of the ones Duffin describes) are more about setting a path forward for later in the season or next year.
Do you find the details of the NFL salary cap interesting or just a mundane accounting tool?